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Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman not agree, however, with the Royal College of Physicians that one answer to the point made earlier by the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson)—my constituency neighbour—is that a truly comprehensive ban would reduce demand for smoking overall? The RCP pointed out that the comprehensive ban in Ireland led to a

So the more comprehensive the ban, the fewer the people who smoke, even at home, which is outside the scope of the ban.

Mr. Grogan: We all know people who, having given up smoking, are tempted to start again every time that they go into a club or a pub. In Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland, the number of households with a smoker has decreased considerably since the ban was imposed. So I appeal to all Members to go the extra step and pass a historic public health measure that bans smoking in all workplaces. I appeal especially to my hon. Friends, who have an instinct towards public health and the protection of staff. Do they really want to go back to their constituencies and say that on one of the only genuinely free votes that we are likely to have in this Parliament, they took the advice of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence—someone for whom I have great respect? I urge hon. Members to vote for a comprehensive ban and a smoke-free England.

John Hemming: I have thrown away my speech and will aim to speak for less than five minutes. We need to focus on one point. It is accepted that secondary smoke is dangerous. Workers need to be protected from that, so a comprehensive ban is necessary. However, we also accept that workers will be exposed to some secondary smoke, when they go outside pubs to collect the glasses.

Amendment No. 10 is a probing amendment to see whether the Government wish to consider whether it is possible to license, through local authorities, rooms—I accept that it is not possible to ventilate a whole pub—that could be ventilated to keep the level of secondary smoke below that outside the pub. Apart from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones), we accept that people will smoke outside pubs, in the gardens. The question is whether it is possible to bring the level of secondary smoke in a room in the pub below the level found outside.

Unintended consequences will arise from a comprehensive ban. The evidence from Ireland is that the consumption of tobacco fell by some 5 per cent. as a result of the ban. The actual fall was some 9 or 10 per cent. but the trend is downwards anyway. However,
 
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smoking is still going on somewhere. By introducing the ban we will move people around, but we will mostly not stop people smoking. If we could achieve a situation in which the concentration of secondary smoke in the atmosphere is below a certain level under certain circumstances—as we accept it will be outside the pub—why not allow smoking rooms, on a licensed basis, within the pub?

Hugh Bayley: In November, I wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and said that I could not in conscience support the then Government position of a partial ban that would not allow smoking in licensed premises where food was served. I sent a copy to my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip. I congratulate both of them on the decision that we should have a free vote on an issue that may be the most important public health decision that will be made by the Government in this Parliament.

I have tried to assess the number of lives that could be lost if we had a partial rather than a full ban. The Jamrozik article in the British Medical Journal, mentioned by the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), states that 617 people die from passive smoking in the workplace each year on average and that some 54 of them work in the hospitality industry. If around one in three licensed premises were exempt from a smoking ban, around 20 people would lose their lives every year. That loss of life can be avoided if we choose a full ban.

I have spoken to the Health and Safety Executive to try to make comparisons with other industrial hazards. Some 37 people die each year from falling from a great height, such as building workers falling from inadequately erected scaffolding. A club would not use the freedom of individual members to make a decision to agree to save money by putting up faulty scaffolding, thus putting at risk the lives of people who work for that club. They should not do the same with their employees by permitting smoking to continue.

On the railways, seven workers died in line-side accidents in the most recent year for which I have been able to obtain figures. One would not say that wearing an orange bib and abiding by the railway inspectorate's safety regulations should be a matter of personal choice for a railway company or employee. We have health and safety rules to protect people, and we should protect people working in private clubs in the same way as we propose to protect those working in other licensed premises, such as restaurants and pubs.

To those private clubs that wish to retain the right for people to smoke—by no means all of them, since two private bingo clubs in my constituency have asked me to support a comprehensive ban—I would say that they will put off more people coming in through the smoky atmosphere than will be encouraged in by permitting smoking. The legal pressures that are likely to come on club committee members from the families of employees who suffer illness or death as a result of passive smoking should make them think again. I urge all hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
 
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Health, to choose a consistent policy, protect employees in restaurants, pubs and clubs in the same way, and vote for amendments (a), (b), (c) and (d).

Mr. Laurence Robertson: Amendment No. 36 accepts that there may be a case for banning smoking in certain public places, but excludes pubs, restaurants and clubs and, indeed, the home. I declare that I am a smoker, but I consider myself to be a considerate smoker. I would not want to smoke in anyone's car, house or office, or even in their company, unless they were happy with that or smoked themselves. It is because I am a considerate smoker that I find the proposed measures intolerant, not to mention illiberal and belonging to the nanny state.

I understand the right of people not to inhale the smoke that I exhale, but there is no reason why the rights of both smokers and non-smokers cannot be accommodated. We already have non-smoking pubs springing up all over the place: there are some in my constituency. We have many pubs that are mixed, with smoking areas and non-smoking areas, and we have pubs that are smoking throughout. We hear from hon. Members on both sides that there is a great demand for non-smoking pubs, and if that is so, the free market, which I thought new Labour believed in these days, will deliver those pubs and everybody will be happy.

It is my contention that the person best placed to decide whether or not to have smoking in his establishment is the pub landlord or the restaurateur, with due regard to his staff and customers. I do not accept that a ban would not lead to an increase in smoking at home, and I am disappointed that so much concern is rightly expressed for the welfare and health of workers, but that few of those who make such protestations have talked about the rights of children in the home. Are they not to be protected? I am convinced that more people will smoke at home than at present, but we do not seek to protect the rights of children.

Mr. Devine: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Robertson: I am sorry, but I do not have time.

Many staff in pubs smoke themselves and many small country pubs will be threatened by the ban. We hear, especially from Labour Members who oppose an exemption for private clubs, that people will flock from the pubs into such clubs. The logical conclusion of that argument is that there is a great demand for pubs that allow smoking, and many of them are small pubs in country areas. Along with the post offices and shops in country areas, they will be under threat. The landlord and landlady of the local inn in my home village of Twyning both smoke. They do not employ any staff, so why should they be covered by the ban? That would be totally intolerant.

6.30 pm

The logical conclusion of the health argument is that the Government should ban smoking altogether. Smoking-related diseases cost the NHS £1.8 billion year. That is a fair amount, but rather insignificant when compared with the £8.1 billion that smokers put into the Exchequer every year. That explains the Government's hypocrisy in refusing to ban smoking entirely—it is due to money.
 
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Of course I share concerns about staff who work in smoky establishments when they do not want to. However, jobs in the catering industry are very difficult to fill. That is why so many illegal immigrants are employed in catering. Other people have the option to go and work elsewhere. We talk about people working in smoky atmospheres, but what about those who work in coal mines or with dangerous chemicals or hazardous waste? Those problems have all been ignored today, and that is because they are difficult to deal with. However, if we were being consistent, we would be considering them as well.

I have been asked to keep my remarks brief—[Interruption.] It is a pity that Labour Members did not do the same and that their arguments were not more consistent. I shall end by saying that this is a very illiberal and totally unnecessary measure. We can protect people's health without this draconian legislation.

I shall vote against the new clause. If we get that far, I hope that the House will vote for amendment No. 36, which is far more tolerant.


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